When Everybody’s Laughing But You
Imagine this scene.
You have a date to meet two friends at a cafe. As you approach the cafe from the outside parking lot, you see your friends through the window.
One of your friends is showing the other something on his phone, and they both have wide grins plastered across their faces.
You enter the cafe and pull up a chair next to them, expecting them to greet you. But they are so captivated by whatever’s on your friend’s phone, that they don’t even notice you’re there.
After several moments, you begin to grow impatient. You move your mouth to say something, but as soon as you do, your friends both burst in raucous laughter.
“Hahahaha noooo way! Wow Marcus is the ONLY person I know who would EVER do something like that!”
You rarely see your friends laugh this hard. One of them is on the verge of tears and still doesn’t notice you’ve arrived.
Thankfully, the other one does notice you:
“Oh hey you’ve arrived! Sorry didn’t see you, we were just having a laugh. How’s it going?”
You’re glad that you’re finally part of the conversation. But now you’re dying of curiosity:
“Nevermind me. What was so funny just now?”
Now the laughter has died down, and your friends seem ready to move on to the next subject of conversation:
“Haha oh nothing don’t worry. Just a friend of ours. He’s a…uumm…let’s just say he’s an interesting character. But you don’t know him….so never mind.”
To this, you’re other friend chimes in:
“Yeah you don’t KNOW Marcus alright,” placing emphasis on the word “know” as if it the word held some special significance. “Not many people ever get to KNOW Marcus!”
At this, your friends erupt into laughter once again.
Now your curiosity is morphing into frustration:
“What! What! What is it? What’s so funny!?”
Your friend wipes his tears with one hand while he bats your question away with the other.
“No no, don’t mind us.. seriously, it’s nothing. It’s a long story — you wouldn’t understand.”
If this happened to you — how would it make you feel?
If you’re like every other human who’s ever existed on planet Earth, you would probably feel left out.
Imagine what it would feel like if you were left out of EVERY conversation?
If you’ve tried to learn Spanish or any other language before, then you don’t need to imagine this, because this is exactly how it is.
Go to a place where everyone is speaking ultra-fast native Spanish, and you might feel left out of most if not all conversations.
Everyone is laughing, chatting, yelling, crying all around you, but you have no idea what the heck is going on.
You’ve been left out of the joke, and it sucks big time….
I don’t care about languages; I care about people.
When I first learned Spanish, I didn’t care about the technicalities of the language like gender and conjugation. The only thing I cared about was connecting with the Mexicans I encountered while traveling their country.
I wanted to understand them, and I wanted them to understand me.
For me, the Spanish language was nothing more than a means to that end.
It’s the same for the almost 8 languages I speak now — I just felt a strong desire to connect with the 8 different groups of people who spoke those languages.
I saw them over there, laughing away, and I just wanted to laugh with them.I